There was talk of a budding dynasty in Los Angeles when the Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup in both 2012 and 2014. But that dream has vanished as the Kings have won just a single playoff game the past two seasons.
Los Angeles appears to be a team in transition. Its two Stanley Cup-winning teams were big, powerful and outright imposing. That is still the case to some extent with its championship-winning core of Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty, Selke and Lady Byng winner Anze Kopitar, and All-Star goalie Jonathan Quick. But now Los Angeles is looking to instill more speed to its attack with fast-paced youngsters like Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.
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While a dynasty never came to fruition in Los Angeles, this is still undoubtedly a championship-caliber team. The defense, which allowed the third-fewest goals (2.72 GPG) last season, remains among the league's elite; there's few better than Quick between the pipes; and Kopitar, who replaces Dustin Brown as Kings captain, is arguably the best two-way center in all of hockey.
Los Angeles Kings 2016-17 NHL Outlook
The Kings suffered a big personnel hit when hulking left-winger Milan Lucic, L.A.'s fourth leading-scorer a season ago, signed a mega seven-year deal to play with the Oilers. His scoring prowess (20 G, 50 PTS) and overall ice presence will be missed in Los Angeles.
Lucic's de facto replacement on the wing is veteran Teddy Purcell, who previously played three seasons with the Kings ending in 2010. Last season with the Oilers and Panthers, he tallied 11 goals and 21 assists in 61 games played.
In addition to the likely downgrade from Lucic on the wing, things were compounded for the Kings when fellow left-winger Marion Gaborik (51 G, 12 GLS, 22 PTS) went down with a foot injury playing for Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey. The reliable veteran is projected to miss the first two months of the season.
Los Angeles Kings 2016-17 Schedule
The Kings play three of their first four games on the road, beginning in San Jose against the defending Western Conference champion Sharks on Oct. 12. The Kings were a good road team last season, going 22-16-3 away from Staples Center. Los Angeles has a favorable set-up for the stretch drive as four of the final five games are at home. This will include matchups against the likes of Arizona, Edmonton and Calgary, all projected also-rans this season.
Los Angeles Kings 2016-17 Future Odds
The Kings are +1800 to win the Stanley Cup, which makes them the 11th choice in the wagering. They are the +750 fourth-choice to win the Western Conference and are co-favored with the Ducks to win the Pacific Division at +225. The over/under on the Kings point total this season is 99 ½.
2016-17 Los Angeles Kings Predictions
Yes, the Kings have disappointed in the playoffs the past two seasons, but this is still a team that just set a franchise record with 102 points (48-28-6) a season ago. Seventeen players remain from the Kings' Stanley Cup teams, which can be viewed as either good or bad. Those guys have been in some absolute wars over the years. It's great to be battle-tested, but how much is possibly left in the tank? That's the big concern with this veteran unit.
Still, when you can trot out the best defenseman in hockey (Doughty) and arguably the best American-born goalie ever (Quick), you're going to stay in games. Defense has been the hallmark of the Darryl Sutter's tenure in Los Angeles, and that's not likely to change this season. Another top-five defensive performance seems likely. Expect a lot of tight, low-scoring games from this championship-pedigreed bunch.
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